Understanding How Simple Things Can Hurt Relationships

Which do you think would last longer: the agony cause by unfaithfulness of partner or the aggravation of looking at a big pile of dirty and smelly dishes in the sink?

On most people, they believe it's the intimate betrayal. But for a psychologists in Harvard University, Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D., it's the otherwise. "When the pain of suggested psychological insult gets big enough, we do something about it," he says. So if your spouse is disloyal, you might enter couples counseling, but you wouldn't suggests therapy because he leaves crusty dishes sitting in the sink overnight. The paradoxical result, Gilbert says, is that "the wife's anger about her husband's disorderliness may actually outlive her anger about philandering."
In Gilbert's study, a "victim" was given an insulting written analysis of his personality. Then spectators were allowed to read sample profile. After five minutes, researchers found out that the spectators, who merely read the negative assessment, disliked the offending writer more than the actual victim did.

Why? When insulted people "go through a process of unconscious rationalization: 'It must be a mistake,' 'What psychologist know anyway?'" Gilbert says. "When you observe someone insulting someone else, it's not so awful that the psychological defenses kick in." And because the targets of insults tend not to deal with their hurt on the spot, he explains, they feel worse longer.


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